Happy Independence Day!

So, we had some fun this long weekend celebrating Independence Day. I knew I wanted to do icebox cookies, but in a red, white, and blue pinwheel. Well, I got lazy and didn’t want to search for my recipe. My quick fix? Pinteresting someone else’s recipe. I found one that was actually red, white, and blue pinwheeled icebox cookies. I was thinking  “lucky break” well, I was wrong. I didn’t even take pictures of those horrible things. The recipe was all WRONG. It was so sticky and weird. So, I kept just following through. I refrigerated them over night, instead of the 30 minutes it originally said. Still sticky. Then I rolled each color out between wax paper, as it said. Then attempted to lay each color on top of one another, as it said. SO STICKY. I couldn’t hardly get the dumb dough off of the wax paper. Then I had to pretty much recreate some of the layers because so much stuck to the wax paper instead of the other dough. I used some extra flour then to try to unstick everything. So not worth it. They tasted like…Biscuits. I made red, white, and blue pinwheeled BISCUITS. The hardest biscuits I’ve ever made. Not pleased. But, they did taste alright with coffee. Shortbread cookies are easier and less sticky than that though. Will not even link the recipe, as I don’t want anyone else to go through it!

We did make fireweed honey and jelly. Fireweed is a beautiful weed that invades most of the land here in Juneau once mid-summer hits. Below is a picture of the weed and you can also spy the Mendenhall Glacier behind there. This photo is from Mark Kelley, he’s a wonderful photographer here in Juneau, he does children’s books, magnets, calendars, post cards, and so on. He’s one of my favorite photographers here, he’s my solid number two. And you can see why:

Mark Kelley Photography

(My favorite is Daniel Buck.)

So, to make fireweed honey or jelly you first have to gather the fireweed (which is totally dangerous here, because people will try to run you down with their cars if they see you picking it. I’m not kidding.) and you also gather clovers. Below is a picture of all of those clovers. I should have taken a side shot of this pot, it’s huge. I’d say 16-20 quarts. (A typical “big” pot is about 8 quarts.) So, half full of clovers, half full of fireweed, fill with water and just boil it down! It’s smells so amazing when it’s boiling, releasing all of the floral scents all over my house. Amazing.

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By the time the fireweed was all cleaned and inserted the house had erupted into mass chaos between 8 dogs, four adults and one child that wouldn’t stop running in circles. (My gosh, it was a nice day, she could have taken those monster dogs outside. Ha!) So, there isn’t any more photos, which is a shame, because the fireweed is so gorgeous, even when plucked and beginning to boil. The exact recipe is something of a secret, but it wouldn’t do most people any good anyway, since fireweed is pretty limited in it’s locations. But, I will tell you that there is a butt ton of sugar in the honey. So, it’s about 2.5 cups of the fireweed/clover juice and 10 cups of sugar! Plus some other secret things. 😉 That’s a looot of sugar. Especially when we made a double batch. And then went back later and made another batch. Actually, we used the big pot for the double batch and it boiled over. Spilling delicious sugary almost honey all over our oven. That was a nightmare to clean off before we could move forward.We also make jelly, which is made basically the same way, with far less sugar, and also, of course, pectin to thicken it. It makes such a beautiful purplish-pinkish color of jelly. We are truly blessed to live in a state that even the weeds are beautiful!

Well, since my icebox cookies were a massive failure, my love was left cookieless. Which, is never a good thing for him. So, I did what I usually do when he’s craving a cookie, I whipped up some peanut butter cookies. Now, if anyone knows me, they know my hatred for peanut butter, and all things peanut. But, as the love my life loves these dumb cookies, they get made! I just open all the windows in our apartment, blast the oven fan, and leave the door wide open for hours afterwards. Everything smells so…Peanutty. Ick.

I get a little excited about the smashing, must be my hatred for them. Don’t smash them that badly, you don’t want hard cookies! I don’t worry that much about making them perfectly round and then a smash, as they kind of round themselves out anyway, really I just don’t want to have to touch them. If it doesn’t bother you, roll them into little balls, then do the slight smash with a fork, and then bake!

Peanut Butter Cookies:
Yields about 18 cookies. Prep time: 10 minutes Bake time: 10-15 minutes. Total time: 20-25 minutes.

Ingredients:
½ cup of peanut butter
½ cup of shortening
1 egg
½ cup of sugar
½ cup of brown sugar
½ teaspoon of baking soda
¼ teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 ½ cups of flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with your hand mixer, cream the peanut butter and shortening.
  3. Add in your sugars and beat.
  4. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
  5. Add in your flour, salt, and baking soda.
  6. Use two spoons (or just your hands) and scoop out small amounts and place on cookie sheet. If you want, smash slightly with fork to create the typical peanut butter cookie look.
  7. Bake 10-15 minutes and then cool!

Our last fun activity was making homemade ice cream. It’s a mom treat. She refuses to give up her recipe (which she got from her mom, of course.) One day, it will be MINE! But, here’s Tod Tod weirding out about the noise that little thing makes. He put his nose in there and it rubbed him and he wigged out. Now he won’t go near it.

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He’s kind of a pansy. But, he’s my first born. Fourth of July is his birthday, so he’s my six year old baby now. 😦 I hate when they grow up!

I had actually intended on making some cake pops or cupcakes for a pre-parade party (my step-daughter was in the parade this year), but then she had a last minute invite from a very good friend to watch the fireworks and have a slumber party in a hotel on the water. So, cupcakes/cakepops were out the door! Oh well, we ended up eating SO MUCH (my boyfriend and I) at a fantastic (expensive) restaurant that we almost had to waddle home. It was truly a great weekend!

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